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Ups and downs
The Burmese kyat has remained steady for three weeks now, following its dramatic fall. It now stands at 1,284 kyat to the US dollar. Gold is selling for 799,000 kyat per tical on the Rangoon market, up from 771,000 kyat at the beginning of the month.
EU, Burma sign trade deal in Naypyidaw
Burma can commence exporting beans, pulses and seafood under the new European Union-Myanmar Trade Development Programme (TDP). Naypyidaw hosted the launching ceremony of the TDP on 6 October, attended by Union Commerce Minister Win Myint, EU ambassador Roland Kobia and international businesspeople, Eleven Myanmar reported. The budget, totaling some 15.4 billion kyat (US $11.9 million) was co-funded by the EU and Germany, according to the report. Burmese fish products are already available on EU shelves, with bean sprouts and mung beans coming soon under EU regulations.
Digicel withdraws from Myanmar Tower Company
Digicel has confirmed a deal to sell its 75 percent stake in Myanmar Tower Company (MTC). The agreement was inked with Edoto Group Sdn Bhd on 2 October.
The decision to exit the Burmese telecommunication market will reduce Digicel’s debt by some US $60 million. The venture generated nearly $16 million in revenue since the beginning of 2015.
The Bermuda-incorporated firm, owned by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, originally bid on a mobile telecommunications licence in Burma in 2013, but lost out to Norwegian Telenor and Qatari-based Ooredoo.
In a press statement on the upcoming sale, Digicel Group CEO said, “The sale represents a strong return on our investment in Digicel Myanmar Tower Company and I would like to thank all the staff at MTC for their significant efforts over the past two years in making the company such a success.”
World Bank predicts lower growth in Burma
The World Bank has revised its forecasts for economic growth in East Asia and the Pacific for 2015 and 2016, saying the outlook was clouded by the risk of a sharp slowdown in China and possible spillovers from expected rises in US interest rates.
From an unprecedented high growth rate of 8.5 percent in 2014, Burma is expected to drop two points to 6.5 percent this year, and is forecast to attain 7.8 percent growth in 2016, according to the World Bank.
Economic output in other Southeast Asian countries is estimated to follow similar patterns.
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Thai healthcare provider moves into Burma
Bumrungrad Hospital Pcl, Thailand’s second largest healthcare provider, announced it has received a permit to operate in Burma.
Myanmar Investment Commission has allowed the provider to operate a private clinic and diagnostic services, according to Reuters. Bumrungrad is one of several Thai healthcare companies looking to expand within Southeast Asia, where growing populations and higher incomes has created a lucrative market.
Burmese clients are the largest revenue contributor among non-Thai Bumrungrad patients. The endeavor will be a partnership with Yangon International Medical Services Co Ltd, who will hold a 20 percent stake in newly created Bumrungrad Myanmar Co Ltd, with the Thai wholly-owned Bumrungrad Health Network Co maintaining an 80 percent share, Reuters reported.
Myitsone Dam has cost us $800m, says China
Some US$800 million has already been spent on the Myitsone Dam, despite the fact that the construction project has been suspended since September 2011, according to Chinese state firm CPI, which is the major shareholder. According to the contract, Naypyidaw is liable to pay compensation to the Chinese state-owned electricity giant if the project is permanently cancelled.
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Ceasefire groups to be prioritised for development projects
Development priorities will be given to areas where the ceasefire accord is in place, according to Minister Aung Min. Speaking at a press conference after the nationwide ceasefire accord signing ceremony in Naypyidaw on 15 October, he said the government will provide funds for development, with assistance from international donors, as stipulated in the ceasefire accord. He said the main priorities include demining, providing food and shelter, creating jobs and providing assistance to those who wish to return home after having fled earlier conflicts.
Of the 15 ethnic armed groups invited by the government to ink the truce pact, eight ethnic armed groups agreed to do so.